5 wholesome games to play

Mental Health

Five cosy games to chill out with in 2021

Traditionally rooted in competitive player-vs-player or player-vs-computer design, video games are broadening their horizons. A rise in relaxing, uncompetitive games is bringing about new ways to enjoy playing, and they’re perfect for people looking for a break from the pressure that gaming (and life!) often demands.

Development studios are turning towards more heartfelt games that don’t make you feel like a loser if you, well, lose. Some games might not even have the option to lose. Instead, they offer comfortable, enjoyable experiences that encourage the player to feel something. Enter: ‘cosy’ gaming.

If you’re finding yourself a little world-weary right now, why not snuggle up with one of our top cosy game picks, and enjoy a bit of me-time in 2021.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Available on: Nintendo Switch

Oozing positivity and charm, it’s easy to see why almost 50% of Switch owners have a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons in their collection. Your goal is to regenerate a deserted island, attracting new residents, and forming your own thriving community. There are no pressing deadlines – instead, you’re free to do whatever you want, from fishing, to landscaping, or hanging out with your neighbours.

With the choice for up to four players to share an island using the same Switch, AC:NH is both a great game for the whole family to enjoy, or the perfect solo getaway.

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Images by igdb.com

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

Available on: Windows PC, Apple iPhone, Apple macOS.
Coming soon to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S.

Thanks to its Dora the Explorer vibes, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure feels distinctly geared towards kids – but there’s enjoyment to be found here for all ages.

Tasked with taking photos of rare wildlife to prevent a hotel being built on the town’s nature reserve, animal lovers will enjoy tracking down every colourful critter on the island of Pinar del Mar. Snaps of rarer creatures garner interest from the local media, propelling the reserve’s fame skywards. Likewise, the conservation theme continues with simple tasks to help clean up the island, and rescue animals needing help.

Utterly charming in every way, Alba will whisk you away from reality for a few hours.

Kind Words (lo-fi chill beats to write to)

Available on: Windows PC

Kind Words is a truly unique multi-player experience. Instead of competing against other players, your goal is to simply write supportive letters to real-life humans playing the game around the world – and to reach out yourself if you need a bit of an extra boost.

The game takes place entirely within your own virtual bedroom, which you can personalise with stickers earned through various activities. Paper aeroplanes drift across the screen, each one a letter from a real human being. You’re free to read as many as you wish, and pen responses if you want to.

Opportunities to reach out to others really can’t be underestimated right now, making Kind Words a precious window for compassion and kindness.

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Images by igdb.com

Coffee Talk

Available on: Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 3, Windows PC

Coffee Talk veers close to visual novel territory, so those of you who enjoy reading will feel right at home here. As the barista of the titular late-night coffee shop, most of the game is spent either conversing with your clients, or following recipes to create the perfect brew.

The game uses its diverse cast to explore various social themes around culture, racism, work-life balance and more, and as you become familiar with your regulars, you can’t help but feel invested in their stories. Set to a soothing, lo-fi soundtrack, Coffee Talk makes for the perfect solo-play for a relaxed, rainy day.

A Short Hike

Available on: Windows PC, Apple macOS, Nintendo Switch

Created almost single-handedly by developer Adam Robinson-Yu, A Short Hike is a breath of fresh air. Taking on the role of Claire, an anthropomorphic bird visiting her aunt in Hawk Peak Provincial Park, your only goal is to hike to the top of the mountain. How you go about it is entirely up to you.

At its core, this is a gentle game of discovery and exploration. That being said, reaching the peak feels like a real achievement, and is a surprisingly emotional moment, reminding us that everyone is dealing with something – even if they don’t show it on the surface.

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